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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth

A British-led expedition found 7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity, known as Mount Mabu

The mountainous area of northern Mozambique in southern Africa had been overlooked by science due to inhospitable terrain and decades of civil war in the country.

However, while scrolling around on Google Earth, an internet map that allows the viewer to look at satellite images of anywhere on the globe, scientists discovered an unexpected patch of green.

A British-led expedition was sent to see what was on the ground and found 7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity, known as Mount Mabu.

In just three weeks, scientists led by a team from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew found hundreds of different plant species, birds, butterflies, monkeys and a new species of giant snake.

The samples which the team took are now back in Britain for analysis.

So far three new butterflies and one new species of snake have been discovered but it is believed there are at least two more new species of plants and perhaps more new insects to discover.

Julian Bayliss, a scientist for Kew based in the region, discovered Mount Mabu while searching on Google Earth for a possible conservation project. He was looking at areas of land 5,400ft (1,600m) above sea level where more rainfall means there is likely to be forest.

Read on
The painting is by Benjamin Williams Leader

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